Greater impact on girls this lockdown than previous lockdown

New research highlights significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the health and wellbeing of girls and young women.

New Girlguiding research reveals how girls and young women aged 4-18 in the UK are coping during the latest national lockdown - and with the huge changes that have occurred in their lives over the past year.

Many continue to struggle with the effects of lockdown and social distancing on their mental health and wellbeing but are finding ways to cope, with a greater appreciation of their wider community.

  • Over half of older girls aged 15-18 feel more overwhelmed and anxious than during the first lockdown and three quarters say the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health (this is up a third from the first national lockdown in March 2020)
  • 2 in 5 (42% of girls aged 4-18) are feeling more lonely - as well as, more bored and fed up during this lockdown
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has led to girls and young women having a greater appreciation of nature and being outdoors, NHS and care workers and of being at school
  •  Over three quarters of all girls aged 4 -18 (82%) report to feeling more hopeful now the vaccination programme is rolling out

Girlguiding has released new research of 1,900 members today (Tuesday 16th February) revealing how girls and young women aged 4-18 in the UK are coping during the latest national lockdown and with the huge changes that have occurred in their lives over the past year.

The latest research continues to highlight the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their health and wellbeing. Girls are generally feeling more lonely (42%), sad (43%), anxious and worried (44%) now, compared to the first lockdown in March 2020. Over half (53%) of girls and young women say the pandemic and latest lockdown have negatively affected their mental health, with older girls being the most affected. They’re also feeling bored (56%), with 7 in 10 saying they feel more fed up.

With a return to home learning for lots of children and young people, girls are missing their friends again (70%), and almost 3 in 5 girls (58%) admit to finding home schooling harder and more stressful. Older girls in particular, (64%) of 15–18 year-olds are worried about falling behind in their schoolwork and (66%) are worried about how cancelled exams will affect their future opportunities. Over half (56%) however say they’re proud of their teachers who’ve been supporting them.

All girls are worried that this lockdown will continue longer than expected (77%) and are concerned about wider issues such as the impact the pandemic is having on the economy and people’s jobs (82% aged 15-18 and 56% aged 4–14).

They’re also concerned about the impact on their family and friends’ health and wellbeing (84%).

Social media continues to play a significant role in older girls’ lives at this this time, with 86% of young women aged 15–18 saying they are spending more time on social media. A large majority (84%) said they have used social media to speak to friends or family and 72% say it helps them to keep informed about what’s going on in the world. Almost 3 in 5 (59%) however feel under more pressure to use this time in lockdown to be productive, by either getting fit or learning something new, and a third (34%) say being on social media is negatively affecting their sleep and mood.

Greater appreciation of what is important in their lives

Reflecting on the past year and the first national lockdown, 49% of girls and young women feel they’ve learnt how to cope with difficulties better this time, with over half (54%) of girls and young women aged 4-18 saying they have learnt more about themselves and the things they enjoy during this lockdown. Girls are finding ways to keep themselves happy and well, by speaking to friends and family on video calls (88%) and being outdoors and in nature (62%). Youth clubs and groups are also helping girls during the pandemic (59%), as is keeping physically active (59%).

With time during lockdown for girls and young women to reflect, the pandemic has led to a greater appreciation for the things they consider important in their lives.


  • 89% have a new appreciation of the NHS and care workers
  • 87% say they appreciate time with family and friends more (this rises to 91% of 8-10 year olds)
  • 74% appreciate being at school more
  • 70% appreciate technology and what it’s enabled during this time.
  • 62% have a greater appreciation of the outdoors and of nature
  • A third of girls aged 4-7 feel inspired to work within the NHS as a doctor or nurse. 1 in 5 girls aged 15-18 are also inspired to pursue a career in science.

Girlguiding Advocate Henrietta, 16, says, “This lockdown has been more challenging, yet it’s a positive sign that girls feel more appreciative of our wider society, where communities have become a force for good. Being stuck at home, not being able to spend time with friends - be it socially or at school (which I now do not take for granted) - has had a profound impact on me personally and makes me value so many aspects of my life.”

Importance of clubs to connect young people

As recognised in the research by girls and young women, group activities and youth clubs have helped them cope throughout the pandemic. Girls say that being part of Girlguiding during the pandemic has helped them to feel more connected and less lonely (65%), be able to help others (31%) and supported their mental health and wellbeing (47%).

To support young people’s mental health and wellbeing, Girlguiding launched #AdventuresAtHome, an online hub of activities open to all children and their families across the UK, to help them continue to have fun, build resilience and support their wellbeing during this time. It features a wellbeing package with helpful resources to support young people to deal with their emotions. Girlguiding’s wellbeing programme and badges includes activities on meditation, mindfulness and self-care.

Girlguiding has continued to provide girls and young women with opportunities to have fun, stay connected and build their resilience. Virtual weekly meetings have offered girls access to activities that help them to have fun (78%), see friends and have a space to be together (62%), give them something to look forward to (73%), do activities that help them learn new things (47%) and feel part of something that brings people together (64%).

Girlguiding Advocate Henrietta, 16 said: “I've really enjoyed connecting with my guiding friends during this lockdown - albeit virtually. Not only is it a break from the day-to-day monotony of home schooling, but it provides an opportunity to have fun and chat with others outside of my home.”

Young women’s voices not being heard

The research highlights the concerns young women share of not being heard, as 79% (aged 15-18) do not think that the government has listened enough to them throughout the pandemic. Girls want more direct and relevant information from government (86%) and 91% want their voices heard as part of the recovery on decisions that will affect them. They also believe government should ensure there’s support for youth clubs and groups that are helping young people during this time, with 93% saying it is important now and for the future.

Angela Salt OBE, Girlguiding CEO said: “It is clear that whilst girls feel more hopeful for the future, many continue to struggle with the effects of lockdown and social distancing on their mental health and wellbeing.”

“Young women are keen to have their voices heard, so it is vital that Government listen to their concerns on decisions that will affect them, whilst also providing support for the youth clubs and groups that are playing an invaluable role helping young people at this time. We can’t wait to get back to offering girls and young women outdoor adventures as soon as restrictions allow.”

Power of community

The pandemic has had a positive effect on girls’ and young women’s sense of belonging – both in their local communities and across the world. Over half of girls feel hopeful that the pandemic has brought people together, with more than half (54%) saying they feel part of a global community more because of all having been through something together. Almost half (47%) of girls themselves have played their part in their local community, including helping to deliver food packages, with two in five (40%) wanting to continue to help once the pandemic has come to an end.
Life after lockdown

Many girls are feeling more hopeful, especially the younger age groups (39% aged 4 to 10 compared to 24% aged 11 to 18). The rollout of the vaccine programmes are offering a light at the end of the tunnel with 82% saying it’s making them feel more hopeful.

As we look to the future and life after lockdown, girls are most looking forward to connecting with others and returning to some semblance of normality.

  • 97% are most looking forward to seeing family and friends that they haven’t been able to see in person
  • 92% are looking forward to hugging family and friends without worrying about the virus
  • 90% are looking forward to going on trips and holidays
  • 70% are looking forward to going back to school